Mountain biking is an incredibly thrilling and exciting workout, perfect for helping you exercise your body, physically and mentally. Besides promoting the release of endorphins—hormones that reduce stress and foster relaxation, it also provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy scenic mountain views and landscapes.
In recent years, biking has grown exceeding popularity, with more people, both beginners, and experts, wanting to get in on the action. But although mountain biking can be fun, like most outdoor sports, you must get the proper gear and essentials before engaging in it. Adrenaline-filled, fast-paced outdoor activities are becoming more common with educational and health awareness programs instilling the importance of staying active among societies. These protect you from any serious injury and prepare you for all possible situations you might run into when out for a ride. However, a wide variety of biking equipment is available, each one pricier than the previous one. And trying to figure out which of these is necessary and worth the investment can be challenging, especially for someone just starting.
If you’re unsure what to get for your mountain biking rides, this list of 6 essentials you must take care of can help you get started.
- The right mountain bike
You, of course, can’t go mountain biking without a bike. This purchase will perhaps be your most valuable possession; therefore, you must consider all aspects carefully before picking the right one. Certain guides can teach you how to choose a mountain bike to fulfill all your basic requirements. For instance, since you do most mountain biking on off-road tracks, your bicycle must be purpose-built and capable of handling rough terrain. Additionally, depending on the trail you ride, you might have to pick one that’s most suitable for that route.
Besides picking the type of mountain bike, you must also choose the right size. Although this may sound simple, it needs careful deliberation and calculations. Bike manufacturers recommend specific frame sizes for people of particular body measurements, so it’s better if you pick one made to adjust your physique rather than a general one.
One of the primary reasons why mountain biking is an adrenaline-filled and exhilarating activity is the unpredictability that comes with it. Rough tracks, rocky paths, and inclined slopes are all part of a typical ride. However, it’s impossible to predict nature, and you never know what pathway comes up around the bend. You must therefore prepare for these uncertainties by wearing safety gear, the most important of which is a helmet. When you crash, fall, or miscalculate certain obstacles on your route, it’s your helmet that will protect you from acquiring a severe head injury. Studies show that helmets can significantly reduce brain injury risk even if you encounter a cycling accident.
Although it may be tempting to go on your ride without a helmet, don’t make this mistake. For your helmet to protect you most efficiently, it must fit you properly and sit atop your head without sliding off.
For mountain bikers, gloves play two essential roles during a ride. First, they protect you from skinning your palms or hurting yourself in the event of a crash or a fall. You won’t be able to complete the rest of the ride with damaged or blistered hands, loosening your hold and making you more prone to another accident. With your skin exposed, you’re also more likely to acquire infections, especially in the open air, where toxins like dust, pollen, and bacteria are common.
Gloves are also essential in improving your grip on handlebars and securing your hold on the bike, regardless of how rough or unstable the path gets. For example, if the weather is too hot or cold, it may be challenging to hold onto your bike with bare hands. Additionally, if you’re sweating or there’s moisture in the air, your handlebars may get slippery, and your hands may keep sliding off. When you wear gloves, you mitigate all these problems and maintain a firm hold on your bike regardless of the conditions.
- Knee pads
Wearing knee pads can be a key difference in riding whenever you want or sitting out sore muscles for days or weeks after every ride. Although some people find knee pads an unnecessary splurge of money, they’re crucial in ensuring you don’t incur any long-term injury. Besides protecting you from bloody scrapes, damaged ligaments, swollen bruises, or cracked bones, knee pads can keep your knee from twisting at odd angles during a ride. To prevent them from becoming an obstacle, you must ensure they are well-padded and a comfortable fit for you.
- Proper shoes
Just as you need to do with every workout activity, mountain biking requires its riders to have the proper footwear. If your current shoes are versatile enough to handle mountain terrain, slippery tracks, and most importantly, your pedals—they might work well enough for biking too. But when picking shoes for mountain biking, there are three factors you must especially look out for:
- Pedal contact
If your shoes don’t have a firm enough grip to control the pedals and keep your feet from slipping off them, they’re not the right ones.
- Comfort and size
You don’t want to force your feet into shoes that are too small or wear a large size from which your feet keep escaping. Instead, the fit should be just right and comfortable so you don’t cramp your muscles every few kilometers.
Shoes provide an added layer of protection from potential obstacles and elements you may encounter on the trail. If you’re riding through wet conditions, you might consider shoes made from quick-drying or water-resistant material to minimize unpleasantness.
Every biker must carry a few indispensable items in unprecedented circumstances like hunger, failure, or injury. Since hanging your stuff on the handlebars or under your saddle is extremely risky, it’s best to invest in a backpack to store your things. Manufacturers generally build a biker’s bag in height instead of depth, so it stays close to their back and doesn’t mess with the balance.
You must only keep the essentials in your backpack and don’t overstuff them with unnecessary things, making them heavy on your shoulders and the bike. You might want to include a water bottle, traveler’s first aid, multi-tool kit, flashlight, jacket, and energy bars.
As you go on more rides, you’ll better understand things you must keep with yourself every time you go mountain biking. But to get you started, don’t undermine these essentials above, and make sure they’re with you whenever you plan your ride.